GOP-run states won't take science seriously and it's killing Americans

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Florida's Republican governor just hired an anti-science sports blogger as a COVID analyst and wonders why coronavirus cases are spiking.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis just hired a sports blogger with an anti-science, anti-mask bias to crunch COVID data in his state.

Kyle Lamb, a podcast host, describes himself as "not an expert," and, according to a Washington Post report, has no experience with either epidemiology or data analysis. But he still got the job from avid Trump supporter DeSantis, who also pushed to reopen the state early and has refused to issue a statewide masking order.

Lamb's job will involve assessing the state of the outbreak in Florida, which is rapidly worsening. Hospitalizations for the virus in the state have risen 20% in recent days, with some 864,000 cases and more than 17,000 deaths in the state total.

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In Idaho, cases have skyrocketed as well, with 1,693 cases on Wednesday alone, and more than 78,000 cases and 750 deaths in total.

Primary care clinics are crammed at maximum capacity, with many staff out ill or quarantined, but its Republican governor, Brad Little, has not issued a masking order.

Last week, the State of Idaho Disaster Medical Advisory Committee told Little that stricter measures would be the only way to control the virus.

"A statewide masking requirement, combined with the other social distancing measures and limitation on group gatherings, is our only hope of avoiding disaster," the committee told Little.

Idaho's positivity rate currently ranks fourth in the country, far higher than that of its neighboring states.

In Alabama, COVID hospitalizations are climbing sky-high.

On Oct. 11, the state was averaging about 880 new cases a day statewide. In mid-November, that number is up to 1,551 per day, with a staggering 2,070 new cases on Wednesday alone.

Its Republican governor, Kay Ivey, just lifted occupancy limits and restrictions on retail businesses, gyms, and entertainment venues.

Barbershops, hair salons, and restaurants are also no longer required to follow social-distancing guidelines if all parties are masked, according to Alabama Today.

"Simply put, [lifting occupancy limits] should be welcome news as we get ready for the upcoming holiday season," Ivey said. "From the outset of this pandemic, I said you cannot have a life without a livelihood."

Meanwhile, according to Johns Hopkins data, South Dakota has the second-highest number of coronavirus deaths per capita in the country, and 1 in 53 people in the state are currently testing positive.

But South Dakota's Republican governor, Kristi Noem, has also failed to issue a masking order for the state, drawing sharp criticism from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz this week.

Walz blasted Noem for this leadership failure, as well as for failing to cancel the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held in the state over the summer.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Noem has repeatedly undermined the science behind masks and questioned whether they prevent the spread of the disease.

While President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are taking the first steps to roll out a coordinated national response to the pandemic when they take office, the reluctance of deep red states to follow basic CDC guidelines could kneecap the process.

In a Nov. 9 address, Biden implored Americans to wear masks. In recent days, he's also named a vibrant new coronavirus task force.

A recent NPR report indicates that fewer than half of states currently require face masks in public places.

A federal surveillance program, including contact tracing and more testing, is also a top priority for the incoming administration.

Biden has also said that when he takes office, he will individually contact state governors and urge them to enact state masking guidelines. If they refuse, he'll move on to the mayors of each city.

But Biden's efforts require the cooperation of state and local officials with national guidelines — a potential problem in GOP-run cities and states if officials refuse to comply.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.